When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?

It’s important to know when a guest becomes a tenant as they stay on your property. When this change occurs, your responsibilities toward that individual will also change. If you’re unaware that your guest suddenly has legal standing as a tenant, you might unwittingly be violating the landlord/tenant laws in your community.

Rent Must Be Exchanged

While it doesn’t matter how much you charge, the simple act of taking money in exchange for a place to stay makes the individual a tenant. 

If you have been letting a friend sleep on your couch for free, they are a guest. However, once you enter into an agreement in which that individual will pay you $100 per week, they have become a tenant.

Some people try to get around this rule of law by having the guest give the property owner a weekly or monthly gift of money. While that technically sidesteps the law, judges are more likely to err on the side of the guest/tenant in a dispute. 

If you have received money from the guest, the judge will usually determine that the guest has been a tenant.

What About House Guest Agreements?

A house guest agreement is simply a written contract that stipulates an individual is a house guest and not a tenant. However, if it can be shown that something of value was exchanged in return for the accommodations, a judge will still be more likely to determine that this constitutes a tenancy.

Navigating Tricky Tenant Situations

If you think your situation has changed or you intentionally plan to rent out your investment real estate, call Reliable Property Management, Inc. at 443-869-3799. We can help you manage the legal and financial issues concerning property management in Maryland.